Located in south Asheville in the Pisgah National Forest and adjacent to the NC Arboretum and the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Bent Creek Research and Demonstration Forest and Lake Powhatan Recreation Area.
Bent Creek Mountain Biking
The collection of trails is well suited to beginning and intermediate mountain bikers, families, and groups. With some trails containing large climbs and technical sections, more advanced riders will have fun here as well. The nearly 10 miles of doubletrack and singletrack open for biking in Bent Creek Forest are comprised of a 6.5-mile loop, with a 1.6-mile one-way out-and-back (3.2 miles total). The Hardtimes Trail follows a gated road leading to Lake Powhatan. The road leads into a part of the original 1,100 acres George Vanderbuilt purchased south of Asheville, part of which now contains the Biltmore House.
Though less advanced riders may find them difficult, none of the trails in the Bent Creek trail system are extremely technical. Most trails follow old road or railroad beds and only a few areas require significant technical skill, with steeps, rocks, roots, mud, and creek crossings. Fast, hardpacked sections of trail lie between these obstacles.
Bent Creek is popular for after-dinner rides, because it is just a few minutes' drive from Asheville. Due to the crowds, this area is patrolled nearly every summer weekend by members of Southeastern Mountain Bike Patrol. This trail network can be connected with others in Pisgah National Forest via the unimproved Bent Creek Gap Road to make long, epic type rides.
Directions to Hardtimes Trailhead: From Asheville, take I-240 west to I-26 east and take exit #33 onto NC 191. Turn left, pass the Biltmore Square Mall, and head south on NC 191 for two miles. Turn right at the stoplight onto Bent Creek Ranch Road, following the brown signs to the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area (bear left at fork after 0.2 mi on this road). The paved, signed Hardtimes trailhead parking area is just over two miles down this road on the left. Other popular starting points are beyond Hardtimes further into the valley toward Lake Powhatan. There is a $2/person day use fee for the Lake Powhatan with more parking and camping.
Map & Details: Full list of Bent Creek Trails |
Bent Creek Trail Map.
Lake Powhatan Recreation Area & Campground
Shaded, private camping
Take an easy one mile hike around the lake.
Hit the beach at Lake Powhatan.
Located adjacent to Bent Creek is Lake Powhatan Recreation Area and Campground, a heavily wooded area on the banks of a small lake. If you don't camp, you can also enjoy the area with a day visit ($2/person) for a picnic or an easy one-mile hike around the lake. There's a beach for swimming and a pier for fishing in the trout-stocked lake. Weekend interpretive programs run from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.
The shaded, private campsites are organized into four loops, all within walking distance of the lake. Provided are picnic tables, tent pads, lantern posts and campfire rings with grills, in addition to restrooms with hot showers and flush toilets. A few sites have full hookups for RVs. Campers can purchase ice and firewood and rent tubes on-site.
Open April -October. Gate closes at 10 PM and reopens at 7 AM. Reservations must be made four days in advance. Must occupy site within first 24 hours or forfeit site. Sites are available for reservation May 15-October 15. First Come / First Serve sites available. Campground office 828-667-0391.
Camping costs are $20/site with 98 sites avaliable. The maximum number of vehicles / people per site are 2 vehicles / 8 persons. There is a $5 for each additional vehicle.
Pets must remain on leash. Quiet hours 10PM to 7AM. No boats allowed on lake. Camping equipment must fit on the site.
Directions: I-26, take exit 33, south approximately two miles on NC Highway 191 to the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area sign. Turn right and follow signs to campground.
See our Camping Guide for more places in the mountains to camp!